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Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) won stage 7 of the Tour de France, the longest stage of this year's race at over 249km, from a breakaway that also featured Team Qhubeka NextHash's (www.TeamQhubeka.com) Victor Campenaerts.
Stage 7 of the Tour de France was the longest stage of the race, measuring in at just over 249km. The route from Vierzon to Le Creusot also including a significant number of climbing meters, including the first category 2 climb of the race which peaked with 17km to go.
As the nature of the course suited a breakaway, there was a big fight from the gun for teams to try and get their men into the decisive move. Team Qhubeka NextHash were very active and in fact, the first attacker of the day was Victor Campenaerts.
However the battle went on for over an hour, with Michael Gogl, Max Walscheid and Simon Clarke all also getting involved. Eventually a strong 29-rider group broke clear of the main pack and Campenaerts was on the right side of the split.
There was a big chase from the peloton as the yellow jersey Mathieu Van der Poel was also in the front group together with big names like Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) among others. Slowly the front group was able to break the spirit of the chase from the peloton with gap growing to just over 6-minutes.
With roughly 80km to go, the first attacks came from within the lead group and Mohoric went clear with Brent van Moer (Lotto-Soudal). With still most of the climbing to come, Campenaerts went on the offensive once more with 55km to go and had Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) in his wheel. The duo worked well together to bridge a 1-minute gap to the 2 leaders, making it 4 up front for the finale.
However, Campenaerts soon had to pay for his efforts when they hit the Cote de la Croix de la Liberation climb, with 30km to go, and was distanced by the trio. It was then on the following climb that Mohoric made the final stage defining move, going solo over the top of the category 2 climb.
Back in the general classification group, the fast start and tough course had taken its toll on many with a reduced group of just 30 riders left. Sergio Henao, the best placed on GC for Team Qhubeka NextHash, was part of this group.
Mohoric went on to claim a brilliant stage win with the main GC group coming home just over 5-minutes down. After Campenaerts had been caught by the chasing group, Henao would be our teams first finisher of the day, crossing the line in 27th place and maintained his 24th place on GC.
After such an arduous day, all Team Qhubeka NextHash riders completed the stage and will be focused on another opportunity that awaits tomorrow.
Victor Campenaerts This year I'm focusing on classic races and breakaway stages and today was a breakaway. I've made a lot of improvements in these things but for me it's quite clear what I'm still missing and it's the endurance for a very long stage.
Today was hot and the pace was quite high all day and I just felt that I had to do something before the climbs and I came in quite a good position to get a good result as both Mohoric and Stuyven were there. They did an incredible ride and I felt just that I was lacking in the end but I know what to improve on.
Nicholas Dlamini It was quite a hard stage given the weather conditions as well. It was really hot and the crucial part was the final 50km and by the time we got there was a lot of tired bodies in the bunch.
It was great to have Victor up in the breakaway, it changed the dynamics a bit for us but that was our plan; it's not often we do such long races – it was a hard day.
I think that for the first week the easy days are now over. Tomorrow is about 3500m of climbing and then over 4000m on Sunday so it's definitely going to be a hard weekend but I think everyone is starting to settle in nicely to the race and we're still going to have a lot of surprises coming up which we look forward to.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Team Qhubeka NextHash.
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About Team Qhubeka NextHash: Team Qhubeka NextHash is a purpose-led, high-performance team, fighting to win on the world's biggest stage, to inspire hope and create opportunity. Founded in 2007, Team Qhubeka NextHash (formerly NTT Pro Cycling) became the first-ever African cycling team to gain a UCI WorldTour license, in 2016.
We achieved our first major win in 2013 when Gerald Ciolek won Milan-San Remo, one of the five Monuments of cycling. We have competed in six Tour de France’s and notched up 7 stage wins, with Mark Cavendish wearing the coveted Yellow Jersey at the 2016 Tour de France.
We are a multicultural, diverse team with bases in South Africa, the Netherlands and Italy. There are 19 nationalities represented across our World Tour and continental feeder team rosters. Our focus on developing African cycling has resulted in more than 55 riders from the African continent be given the opportunity to race on the world stage, since the team's inception.
We race to help people to move forward with bicycles through our relationship with Qhubeka Charity. Through our work with Qhubeka, we have contributed to the distribution of over 30 000 bicycles in communities in South Africa.
About Qhubeka: Qhubeka is a charity that moves people forward with bicycles. People earn bicycles through our programmes, improving their access to schools, clinics and jobs.
A bicycle is a tool that helps people to travel faster and further, and to carry more. In the face of extreme and persistent poverty, bicycles can change lives by helping to address socioeconomic challenges at the most basic level – helping people to get where they need to go.
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